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  • Fashion
  • Issue 51

I’m With

A short history of slogan T-shirts.
Words by Rosalind Jana. Photograph by Hendrik Schwab.

In 1984, the British fashion designer Katharine Hamnett met then–Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher at an event in honor of London Fashion Week. Hamnett wore her coat through security screenings, keeping it wrapped around her until the moment she shook Thatcher’s hand. As the cameras flashed, Hamnett revealed a T-shirt emblazoned with the words “58% DON’T WANT PERSHING.” Thatcher, apparently, squawked like a chicken. 

Hamnett was protesting the escalating threat of nuclear armament: “Pershing” was the name of the nuclear missiles stationed throughout Europe without public consultation. It remains one of the most successful protest T-shirt stunts ever pulled. Although they had been around since the ’60s, something about the charged atmosphere of the ’80s encouraged wider protest in fabric form. Hamnett was at the head of the charge in the UK, while Keith Haring’s 1989 Act Up T-shirt, reading “Ignorance=Fear / Silence=Death,


This story is from Kinfolk Issue Fifty-One

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